I know most of you out there are laughing your butts off, especially those who have agents. In a perfect world, this might be true. Hello! We’re not in a perfect world. There is still crime, poverty, hunger and yes, the dreaded rejection letters in our world. Not that I’m comparing the first three to the last one, mind you. But still, a rejection hurts, even if it’s sugar-coated with “You’re a talented writer, but...”
I signed with an agency three years ago and just knew I was on my way to being published. I had a great story and an enthusiastic new agent who loved it. I started dreaming about book signings and - God help me for wanting this so badly – in every dream I saw myself wearing the pink first sale ribbon at Nationals. Most people want the cash. I wanted the ribbon.
Nine months later, after getting my hopes up more times than I want to remember when editors showed an interest in my story, I was still unpublished. So, after I finally buried the notion I would be an instant hit in the publishing world, I began another story. In the meantime, my agent left to spend more time helping her daughter, an Olympic hopeful, and I was handed down to my present agent.
Again, my expectations soared. As a slow writer, it took another nine months to finish the novel. I was already planning a trip back to Ohio, my home state, for a book signing with all my family and high school buddies.
“This book isn’t big enough to be your breakout novel,” new agent said. “Keep writing.”
Because I had instant chemistry with her and trusted her judgment implicitly, I started a third story. She was excited about this one, which in turn, excited me. Nine months later – did I mention my snail-paced writing?- I turned in my ghost story.
She loved it. Halelujah! Best seller’s list, here I come!
She sent the story to several houses and an editor at Berkley loved it. She asked if it was a series. Of course it was a series, I said, imagining a four book deal. Again, I checked the airlines for cheap flights to Ohio.
Fast forward to “I love the story but I can’t use it for my line.” I’m sure they heard the sound of my dream crumbling back in Bridgeport. What else could I do? I had an agent I believed in, I’d written a story we all loved, but I had no sale. What happened to getting my first sale two months after signing with an agent?
Here’s what happened. The expectation was ridiculous. Granted, my chances escalated when I signed on the dotted line, but come on. The same horrible economic downswing that has me clipping coupons and eating out less has also hit NY and the rest of the world.
So, what good is an agent, you ask?
I can only speak for my own who spends hours on the phone with editors, me and other clients and even hops on a plane to NY at least once a month for face to face contact with editors to find out what each one is specifically looking for. She took the rejection for my ghost story and turned into something positive. Knowing the editor loved my voice, she told her she would have something else from me that better fit her line. Six weeks later, I had a three book deal from a proposal.
So, I’m here to tell you patience is a writer’s friend. The reality is, if you’re fortunate enough to have an agent, you have to give her time to find the right market for your story. Trust in her judgment when she gives you a page full of edits or tells you the story needs more work. She spends hours researching and she knows what’s selling.
And, BTW, even if you sell today, chances are your book won’t release until 2012, so that blows the “from sale to bestseller in two months” right out the window. Let’s get real. An agent isn’t a miracle worker. Keep doing what you do best – writing- and trust her to do what she does best - finding a home for your story.
Patience – pray for it!
I’d love to hear your comments whether you have an agent or not.